Tuesday, April 24, 2012

County Commissioners continue to disagree about (insert topic here) once again.

Cohesiveness on the County Board of Commissioners continues to erode and yet again seems to impede their ability to make significant steps towards fully addressing real county issues. The embers of closed door frustrations are spilling over onto public meetings and evoking childhood memories of the old playground at recess. Cindy Beamon of the Daily Advance has the Hall Monitor's recap below:

Rorer to Petry: Shut up; Petrey to Rorer: ‘You will be sorry’
By Cindy Beamon
Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2012
CURRITUCK — A discussion about deputies turned into a brief, but fiery exchange between two Currituck commissioners at a work session earlier this week.
John Rorer, chairman of the Currituck Board of Commissioners, told fellow Commissioner Butch Petrey to “shut up” after Petrey criticized Rorer for his description of deputies as “power hungry.”
Petrey told Rorer not to tell him to shut up again or “you will be sorry.”
Rorer then threatened to remove Petrey from the meeting if he continued to be “out of order.”
In an interview Tuesday, Petrey said Rorer had insulted deputies in Currituck, and he felt the need to defend him. Petrey questioned if Rorer even had the power to remove another commissioner from the meeting.
Rorer said Tuesday that Petrey’s comments were disruptive and it was his duty as chairman to keep order.
“We have to be tolerant of each other and make allowances, but I do have to run the meeting,” said Rorer.
Rorer said removing another commissioner from the meeting would require a vote, but Rorer thought a majority on the board would have sided with him.
The dispute arose during a discussion about hiring a “courtesy patrol” for the off-road beaches on Currituck’s northern Outer Banks.
Commissioners were discussing whether it would be better to hire college students or pay deputies overtime to patrol the beaches on all-terrain vehicles.
The choice depended on what the board wanted to accomplish, said County Planning Director Ben Woody. If commissioners wanted a courtesy patrol to have enforcement powers, then it would be better to hire deputies, Woody said. If commissioners wanted the courtesy patrol to focus on welcoming vacationers and providing information, then the county may not need deputies, he said.
Commissioners then discussed what would happen if vacationers became unruly with the courtesy patrol. They asked Sheriff Susan Johnson, who said she was there to listen, if vacationers would heed friendly warnings from a courtesy patrol.
Johnson said it would depend on the person and the situation. Based on past interactions between vacationers and volunteer courtesy patrols, about 60 percent of the time, deputies were called to assist, she said.
Commissioner Paul O’Neal said some self-appointed courtesy patrols have provoked vacationers in the past. He said he’d heard reports of some people running up and down the beach yelling at vacationers, telling them to move their cars.
“It’s how it’s done that is going to make a difference,” said O’Neal.
Rorer said he agreed. When the discussion turned to deputies patrolling the beach, Rorer said “the attitude of deputies are not the most genteel and persuasive.” He said their behavior is influenced by having guns and often feel the need to demonstrate their power.
Petrey then told Rorer he should tell Currituck deputies that face to face.
Rorer told Petrey to shut up.
Petrey responded by telling Rorer not to tell him to shut up again.
On Tuesday, Petrey said he was offended by Rorer’s attitude toward local law enforcement.
“They don’t deserve that,” he said.
Johnson said she also disagreed with Rorer’s comments.
“I assure you that the deputies are not interacting with tourists in our area in a negative manner,” she said.
The conflict between Rorer and Petrey was not the only testy moment during Monday’s work session.
Petrey and Commissioner Vance Aydlett also exchanged words after Petrey suggested posting more signs on the beach would cost less than hiring a courtesy patrol.
Aydlett said signs have been on the beach for 15 years and had not solved the problem.
“It’s time to man up and do it or shut up,” said Aydlett.
Aydlett later told board members that his comments were not directed at any one commissioner.
Commissioners ultimately agreed to pay overtime for two more deputies to patrol the 12-mile stretch of beach. The decision will double the sheriff’s department’s ATV summer patrols, said Johnson. Instead of two officers covering six miles each of beach, four officers will cover three miles each, she said. The extra manpower and ATVs are estimated to cost $64,380, which Scanlon said would be funded with occupancy tax revenue.
“I am hoping we will see a marked difference with the safety issues on the northern beaches,” Johnson said.
Commissioners have considered several proposals to resolve a dangerous mix of sunbathers and traffic on the off-road beaches during the height of summer tourist season.
Residents have proposed a permit system to limit the number of vehicles on the beach, but commissioners have rejected that idea so far. Commissioners considered creating a “safe zone” so that sunbathers would not have to cross traffic, but that proposal has been shelved, at least until next year.
Johnson said she’ll know by the end of summer if the added patrols made a significant impact on the safety issues.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

County at odds over addressing future of 4x4 beaches

Here is an article about people's opinions how best (or worst) to address the increasing traffic and multi uses on the 4x4 beaches. I am providing a link to this article because the comments on the article are also noteworthy.